Music of black origin gets UK salute amid gay-bashing controversy

September 30, 2004

LONDON — Britain's annual salute to music of black origin, the Mobo awards, unfolds Thursday under a cloud of controversy after two reggae stars got the axe for failing to say sorry for gay-bashing lyrics.

Some of the brightest acts in R and B, hip hop, reggae, jazz, gospel and world music will be on hand for the ninth edition of the Mobos at the Royal Albert Hall in central London.

Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Brandy, Lemar and Usher are in the running for best R and B act, with G-Unit, Jay-Z, Kanye West and Outkast among the nominees vying for hip hop laurels.

But the reggae category is only a two-way race – Sean Paul for his album "Like Glue" and Toots & The Maytals for "True Love" – after Jamaican singers Elephant Man and Vybz Kartel were bumped off the list.

They had refused to apologise in writing for previously recorded songs inciting violence against homosexuals, and while none of those tunes were on their albums this year, organisers opted to drop them from the nominees list.

"The Mobo Awards position has been clear from the outset -- they do not condone music that clearly incites violence to gay and lesbian people nor do they advocate censorship of artistic expression," the Mobo Academy, which administers the awards, said.

The Mobos are one of a number of music awards in Britain that can influence record sales and boost an artist's profile.

Organisers say music of black origin – Mobo is the acronym of that phrase – accounts for more than half of all singles sold in Britain

But nominations are not restricted only to black artists.

Nominees can be of any race or nationality, so long as their music draws on music that traces its roots back to Africa.

Nominees in the best jazz act category are Amy Winehouse, Jamie Cullum, Keb Mo, Norah Jones and Denys Baptiste, while the world music category features Angelique Kidjo, Bebel Gilberto, Cesaria Evora, Youssou N'Dour and Daara J.

Up for best single of 2004 are Jamelia for "Thank You," Kanye West for "All Falls Down," Mario Winans for "I Don't Wanna Know," Outkast for "Hey Ya!" and Usher for "Burn!" – Sapa-AFP

Related stories
Reggae star under police investigation [17/08/2004]



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